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John Oliver Chorale disappointing

The audience appeared to enjoy themselves; the Globe gave the John Oliver Chorale an enthusiastic review; but I found their performance lacking.

Their approach seemed to have a monotonous uniformity to it for too much of the evening. The Chorale appeared to lack flexibilty and to perform to a formula rather than to develop the special qualities of each of the pieces on the program.

Schubert's setting of Psalm No. 23, D. 706 for example, was nicely sung from a technical perspective, but lacked spirit. Gott in der Natur, D. 757, was similarly joyless. Gesang der Geister "ber den Wassern, D. 714 was unsatisfying because the singers lacked cohesion: It was endowed with neither precision nor lyricism. The Magnificat, D. 486, with which the first part of the concert concluded, was also muddled -- and lacked color too. The orchestra seemed too strident, voices forced.

The main item on the program was Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K. 626, given in the Franz Beyer edition. The orchestra began the piece well: the sad but disturbed opening notes had a deathly melancholy. The women singers lacked clarity in the Kyrie (and in several other places, too), but the Dies irae was done with a furious glory, and William Hite sang an accomplished solo in the Tuba mirum, with dramatic tensions effectively painted by the strings.

The chorus held together better than earlier in the Rex tremendae and the Sanctus was possessed of a spiritual grandeur. There were moments, then, when the depth of Mozart was probed and revealed; there were, however, too many barren stretches in between to describe this as a great rather than an adequate performance.

Jonathan Richmond->